I am sure that the talent for this is in many years of experience, but I was wondering if those of you who breed could share some pointers on what you look for when choosing a stud.
Like do you look for a particular look or characteristic, like a better topline if you want to improve on your girls. Or do you try to find Kennel names the dogs share (granted if you LIKE that look of dog), do you try to get a common dog in their pedigree far back? That kind of thing. Just curious.
First I look at the dog himself.* I have to really like a lot about him both physically and his temperament - not all dogs are perfect so there may be things that I don't like as well but it's the total package.* I want to see the hallmarks of the breed - pretty head, coat, and tail as well as friendly, outgoing, confident, intelligent, and an avid retriever.* Next I look at the pedigree and make sure it's relatively clean ie nothing too serious up front and center or I won't go there no matter how much I love the dog.* I also look to see what the lines are known to produce* - health issues, temperament, and physical characteristics like good coats and nice heads as well as the negative like not a lot of rear angle, etc.* Again no dog is perfect and no lines are perfect - only throwing the best of qualities with no issues.* And lastly I want to improve on what I don't like about my bitch.* She has a bad topline so I want a dog with a rock solid topline and is known to produce that as well.* She also lacks enough coat so I want to make sure I go to a boy who has a lot and is from a family with a lot and throws a lot.* You really need to be honest about what you like and don't like about your bitch and get other's opinions on what to improve as well.*
Some people will pick a dog that hasn't been used much and is kind of an "unknown" and this might work very well for them, however you have to ask around about the dog and find out about his parents and grandparents and also ask other's opinions on him and why he isn't used that much.* Others go to the top dogs from the top kennels that are known to produce specialty winners and this might work well too, however you have to remember that the puppies you see out of such dogs are going to be out of really superior bitches and maybe even linebreeding that you will not be doing when you take your girl to "Mr. Wonderful" so your resulting litter might not include the nexty Potomac winner like his other puppies.*
It's really a crap shoot no matter how much time and energy and research is put into the breeding.* I have seen matches that just click and the stud might not have been a first choice but it worked.* Also I have seen matches made in heaven produce not so angelic looking puppies.* I remember seeing a bitch that I fell in love with - she was oh so perfect.* I found out she was bred to one of my favorite top producing stud dogs - mmmmmmm.* I saw their son and nearly fell over - he was so dog gone ugly!* He was NOTHING like either parent.* * * *
Getting to know a dog and the breeder/owner is invaluable.* People lie all the time.* I have found this especially true about temperament.* That is number one in my book - a bad tempered dog is no good to anyone - breeder, show home, hunter, or pet.* I know what I like and what I want in a Labrador but that may differ from someone else who thinks that "boys will be boys" and so it's okay for males to growl at one another or even go after another dog.* Also many dogs are strict kennel dogs only getting turned out with one or two other dogs that are the same ones for years and then going out to shows in a crate, van, and on a short leash.* I for one do not want to breed to a male like this and some breeders/owners will tell you they are sweet and confident and good retrievers and yet they have no clue.* I also know of a dog that is dog aggressive and he bit my friend's boy and yet the owner advetises him as a "joy to live with" and "excellent temperament", etc.* Yeah right.*
Oh and there are lines I like and dogs I like that I look for in a pedigree, however that is just a start. I look at head's first admittedly and go from there! I also look for dogs with certain pedigrees but I can usually just tell that from when I see the dog. Picking Mr. Right is really tough for everyone.
There is no receipt du jour for picking a stud dog, we will all give you conflicting points of view on what we do...LOL. I really urge you to spend some time with your mentor/person who sold you your bitch(es) etc and just watch their dogs and decisions. Its hard to find your own footing so quickly and solidly being so new to the fancy so to just say 'you need to linebred' or 'I only pick stud dogs with proper fronts', isn't going to improve your learning curve. YOU need to figure out WHY you want to breed, what SORT of Labrador you are aiming to produce and WHOM you are breeding for(sorta ties into why). Once you figure out who you are and what your bitch needs physically and pedigree wise, it will help narrow down the selection process for you. You need to discover you own comfort zone for choice and what works for you.
My own reasons:
Healthy aged stud dog, producting qualities I want with pedigree compatiable out of outstanding bitch line.
Thats my ideal simplified rational behind what I do or don't here....of course, there are exceptions to the rule also.
Someone in our club recently mentioned to me that (as kindof a "last step") they put a potential stud dog's pedigree into some computer program to determine a "breeding coefficient." I don't have a clue what it was all about, but it sounded like a way to evaluate the number of times a particular stud/bitch comes up in the backgrounds of a "possible breeding." (ie- a way to evaluate line-breeding?)
Interesting to think about all of the things that it takes to decide on a breeding. I don't even have an intact bitch, so don't have to worry about it myself for a long time to come, but I find it incredibly interesting how each person picks the "ideal" match for his/her bitch or a particular line to purchase a bitch puppy from that would work well with their stud dog. I love looking through LQ, putting Post-It notes on the pages of dogs that I really love the looks of, and checking into pedigrees... I find that all too-often (a good thing, I think!), they carry many of the same dogs in their backgrounds.
What types of things are usually really "dominant" types of traits in others' experiences- for instance, if you have a bitch with a weak topline, do you always make sure you can see progeny of a particular stud dog to make sure they retain his strong, level topline? Or, are you willing, if you like the dog and his topline is beautiful, to take a chance in breeding to him with the hopes that he will improve on the bitch's topline? How many times do you actually see a stud dog passing along its beautiful head or front to his pups? I mean, some of the top dogs out there aren't dogs I would probably ever consider breeding to unless I had a bitch who really, really needed something from that dog. ???
~Julie, Rogue, Monty, and Eddy~
"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue." -Anon
Some studs are prepotent and others aren't...when looking at a stud, it is so important to see his get from both line breedings and out crosses to see what he is prepotent for. Then you will have an idea of what he will produce. It is hard, because when looking at get, you have to consider the bitches that are brought to him, and many times with lesser known studs, they do not have great bitches brought to them and you have to do some guessing.What types of things are usually really "dominant" types of traits in others' experiences- for instance, if you have a bitch with a weak topline, do you always make sure you can see progeny of a particular stud dog to make sure they retain his strong, level topline? Or, are you willing, if you like the dog and his topline is beautiful, to take a chance in breeding to him with the hopes that he will improve on the bitch's topline? How many times do you actually see a stud dog passing along its beautiful head or front to his pups? I mean, some of the top dogs out there aren't dogs I would probably ever consider breeding to unless I had a bitch who really, really needed something from that dog.
IMO, I will pass on a stud if he doesn't have a strong bitch line. There are so many very beautiful dogs out there, but they have relatively weak bitch lines and I don't want to gamble on them as they aren't likely to reproduce themselves. It makes it hard to pass these dogs up, but the pedigree is often what separates a good show dog from a good producer, although there are always exceptions. Some dogs are just breeder-uppers though, and improve on the bitch regardless of what is brought to them. Two quick examples are Arnold and Vinny (RIP) Look at their pedigrees and it isn't hard to understand why they produce.
I would much rather breed to an good dog with a great pedigree and good dogs behind him that produce what I want, than an excellent specimen who doesn't have what I want behind him.
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
This might be a dumb question, but when does a breeder use an unproven stud? A couple of you mentioned looked at progeny, but at some time someone must take a risk on a stud that no one has ever used before.
Unfortunately my breeder is in another state now that we moved so while I can ask for opinions, she won't know the dogs in my area and I won't be able to go all over the country when looking for a stud. I have seen several nice males locally...titled and so forth. I'll have to see about finding a few people who are breeding chocolates here in CO and befriend them!
Although breeders would like to see what the stud is producing first, many will take a chance on an unproven stud. One good reason is because of the stud dog's pedigree. I've seen a few people use a stud dog that maybe they personally didn't like but loved the pedigree and thought it would go well with their bitchs' pedigree. It seems that I've also seen/heard about some breeders wanting to be the 'first' to use the stud dog and hopefully get good pups before the stud dog becomes popular - first on the block syndrome I guess.
What exactly does one look for to determine which dog has a strong bitch line ???- in your example of Vinnie or Arnold, would these dogs behind a stud dog's bitch line be considered "strong" based on pedigree alone, since they are known to improve on so many breedings? I'm still trying to get the "terminology" down so that I can listen to ringside conversation with more of an idea of what people are talking about. I have heard several breeders mention that they will often go with a stud dog whose dam was not only an exceptional example, but an easy breeder/whelper as well. Someone mentioned something to me once that if you are looking for a beautiful bitch puppy, really get a good look at the sire's dam. I wonder if this all goes along with the "strong bitch line" thought?Originally Posted by FallRiver
Gosh, this forum is getting great- so many knowledgeable people with so much to share! It has seemed so quiet until recently. Good questions and outstanding answers by all! Leaves me with a lot to think about (and probably even more to remember!) LOL
~Julie, Rogue, Monty, and Eddy~
"The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue." -Anon
More thoughts and ramblings.
Well first of all wouldn't everyone love to see a gorgeous boy with a beautiful head, topline, coat, tail, front, bone that is full of retrieving drive and exceptionally sound and to boot he is out of a drop dead gorgeous dam who produced a few champions and his sire is one that is a known producer and the dog himself has produced wonderfully gorgeous dogs with no issues etc etc etc. Well if such a dog existed then that person would make a million dollars a year on stud fees! It's hard to find everything so you have to decide what's important and go from there. You have to know what you won't sacrifice and what you can live with. Some people for example take huge risks when it comes to temperament and soundness and don't lose any sleep. Others just don't know that much about a stud dog and listen to the owner/breeder gush and believe every word which can be true or not so true. I personally want to know the boy pretty well since temperament is so important to me. I also want to know the dogs behind him - maybe not intimately but I want to be able to talk with their breeder about them and if I can't see a lot of the stud's puppies then I want to know about his siblings, half siblings, cousins, etc.
The bitch line is simply the mother's line. You wouldn't want to breed to a boy who is really gorgeous but had an "ugly" mother who didn't produce anything except for him. Chances are you won't get his traits since he's not dominant for them but there are exceptions. Also as mentioned some dogs are that much to look at yet they are great producers while others are absolutely beautiful but do NOT throw themselves on their pups. Some breeders look for such boys since their bitches are oh so nice - they don't want to change anything but instead make more little clones.
Two of my more recent breedings were to stud dogs out of a bitch I adore and spent a good amount of time with years ago when breeding a different bitch to another stud dog.* This bitch comes from a strong bitch line and I loved the pedigrees of two of her sons who were sired by a very nice stud dog.* I patiently waited for them to grow up.*
Time will tell if I chose correctly, but I think I did.* I would not have my bitch Skye or my new pup Jammer if I went a different route.*